Opinion

Nick Sortal: Miccosukee Tribe loses $1B bet on gaming per capitas


The Miccosukee Tribe owns and operates the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming in Miami, Florida. Photo from Facebook

Members of the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida could soon be hit with big tax bills after a federal judge ruled that gaming per capita payments are not exempt from taxation. Columnist Nick Sortal has more on the high-stakes saga:
More than 50 years after U.S. recognition as a tribe, and more than 25 years after collecting its first dollar via gambling, the steadfastly independent Miccosukee Tribe of Florida is finally approaching a day of reckoning: paying up on $1 billion in taxes that tribal members have dodged for decades.

Like almost 240 Native American tribes across the United States, the Miccosukees operate a casino. But unlike every other tribe, the Miccosukees, in west Miami-Dade County, have claimed that the revenues distributed to tribal members are exempt from income taxes. That claim is despite a federal law passed in 1988 to address Native American casino operations.

Almost everyone familiar with the case shakes their head at the Miccosukees’ belligerence, saying that tribal leaders know they’ve been holding a ticking time bomb.

On Aug. 19, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled a tribal member must pay $278,758 in taxes, interest and penalties to the Internal Revenue Service after she failed to file a 2001 return. The decision provides the IRS power to compel other tribal members to pay personal income taxes on casino gaming distributions dating back more than a decade, attorneys said.

Read More:
Nick Sortal: Miccosukees lose $1 billion bet with IRS (The Miami Herald 9/6)

Federal District Court Decisions:
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law | Order

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